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My name is Hallan Turrek. This is my blog.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Crime and Politics

Meet the new boss.
Same as the old boss.
The Who - Won't Get Fooled Again

Part 1: Basic Government

Lets face it: nobody is a huge fan of government. Even if you enjoy the security of knowing someone's in charge, you're going to disagree with them. The problem is of course that government must exist, or else anarchy reigns.

Anarchy, while a perfectly valid form of government, is incredibly bad at waging war. Sadly, in EVE, the success of any one corp or alliance is measured in it's ability to not just wage war, but to win them. So if you want to have any sort of success, you've gotta submit to a government of some kind.

The most common, of course, is autocratic rule. Not because it's more effective(though it is), but because EVE's broken corp and alliance system mostly lends itself to that form. A CEO has ultimate control. And while he/she can appoint directors to handle things, that director cannot create shares to appoint a new CEO. And despite what damage a director can do, he cannot remove a CEO. The CEO, however, can revoke directorship anytime.

So the CEO has autocratic control, regardless of the governmental system we're talking about. Alliances are just a bit more complex, but mostly the Corp system just scales up. Ultimately the choice of an "executor" corp falls on the individual corps. In the end, any actual shake up can/will result in dissolution of the alliance. The CEO/Directors of the Executor corp can kick any corp he/she feels is disloyal.

So what we're left with is a system of autocratic control, with alternatives only presented as a function and choice of the players exercising that control. This is fine, and I'm not going to go into it too deeply, but there should be a CHOICE of governmental types outside of using the very broken "shares" system. Or fix that maybe. Simple solution? Give the CEO an ability to set a quorum required to bring something to vote. Then allow shares to be flagged non-transferable. Again, I'm not going into that too deeply for this discussion.

Regardless, we have no real democracies in the null sec alliances of 0.0, and if I'm wrong please correct me.

One might ask: Wait a minute, doesn't Majesta Empire have a democratic system? No, that's an oligarchy. The corps don't elect their CEOs, even if the CEOs vote on stuff. A true democratic system has to have at it's base the vote of the average member in mind. A representative democracy would elect it's CEOs, a consensus democracy wouldn't function at all, and a direct democracy would be scarily inefficient.

So is democracy possible in EVE? Yes and no. On corp scales, democracy can work. The choice of your CEO, the choice of wars, the choice of officers(or ministers, as some might call them), and the choice of direction an alliance takes can all be voted on.

But lets ask a question here, how up to date are you on the comings and goings of your members? How well informed are you on the success or failure of last night's mining op? The 10/10 plex attempt? The roam your members took into Delve this morning? How informed are you personally on the ship types and capabilities of every single member in your corp?

Are you informed enough? How about the next guy? How about that one really vocal guy you hate? Are you confident in the ability of even 51% of them to come to the right conclusion on something?

So am I saying democracy won't work? No, I'm saying that it won't work for a null sec alliance. 1000+ member alliances are generally big and sluggish to act. One should not add to that with an additional layer of red tape. Those who are slow to adapt will die. Ultimately, democracy won't work for even a small military corp either, for the same reason the real military isn't a democracy. For a smallish carebear corp? It's fine.

So the best we hope for is an oligarchy then. But even that will lend itself to a limitation in size. Ultimately you run into the same problems the Imperial Senate of Star Wars had. Too many people with various goals that don't sync with the common good.

What we see is that the best solution is an autocratic leadership structure, with governors controlling smaller plots.

So why isn't this the case in real life? There's a scale issue to start with, alliances in EVE are 5000 member entities at their peak. Democracy works on smaller scales(say, 3-100), and dictatorships work on the scales EVE experiences. As nations increase in size, democracy becomes more viable. However, you're slaved ultimately to the whims of similarly powerful entities with more effective governmental structures. Since EVE levels the technological playing field, as long as a similarly sized entity has a dictator at it's peak, you will need to make decisions equally fast.

Athens, as an example had a peak voting population of 40,000(and a full population of 140,000). Sparta on the other hand(with a much more dictatorial government) had a population total of 16,000. Guess which of these two dominated Greece militarily? Guess which one conquered the other? If you guessed Athens, you'd be wrong.

Ultimately this is just a description of how things are, rather than how they can be. My idealized system is a simple tiered autocratic system. That's not something I should go into, since it's mostly a mathematical exercise(instead of the sociology you've been subjected to already). It's also outside the scope of this discussion, since I'm just talking about the basics of government, not the internal workings. If you want a bit more on that, read this. It's not exactly accurate, but if you can separate the chaff from the wheat, you will learn a thing or two.

Part 2: Interaction of Alliances

Now in EVE, we don't just have single alliance governmental systems, we have "pet" alliances and "rental" alliances, along with regular old allies, working with parent alliances.

Allies operate on a mostly equal footing, where militarily and culturally similar goals lead to an alliance of interests. Sometimes it's as simple as protecting yourself from another group, and other times it's extending your collective influence. Either way, the coalition can dissolve with both entities still controlling whatever they controlled before. Most long term coalitions in eve are effectively Confederations.

Pets are effectively colonies and satellite states that fall in the sphere of influence of their neighbor. They can choose to be subservient or they can choose to leave, but there are no other choices. Though they are subservient, they have some value as allies, since they are kept around. Almost invariably that is a military value, because other assistance puts them in the renting category. Pets can evolve into full partners eventually. However, in EVE they rarely last long enough.

Renting alliances are in the worst position. Whereas pets have something inherent to them that gives them value, renting alliances must provide isk, ships, or services to keep what space they have. This is a more annoying place on the ladder to occupy, because even your allies hold you in poor regard. It's rare for a renting alliance to graduate to pet status, much less to a full ally. This is because even if you develop some value as an alliance, status quo is god. You were paying before, and unless something extraordinary happens, you'll keep paying.

The history of EVE is littered with literally hundreds of Alliances that thought they could parley renting null sec into a full fledged empire. The number of alliances that have succeeded are few.

All alliances in a particular sphere of influence, however large, are expected to provide material assistance to the war efforts of their side. This system is feudal in nature, and that will probably not change. The process is simple enough.
  1. The parent coalition(an Alliance of Kings) either engages in a war or is attacked.
  2. The parent coalition asks it's members(The Kings) to provide support.
  3. The coalition members(The Kings) ask their own pilots(Knights) and their renters/pets(Lords) to provide support.
  4. The Renters/Pets(Lords) ask their pilots(Knights) to provide support.
The support the pilots provide is a condition of their continued membership in the leadership structure(and by extension their control of land). The issues arise when the Knights show up on the field with a pitchfork and rags. They attempt to provide support, but fail miserably. Or an alliance of 600 provides 10 pilots. This brings up questions of "what is your value here,". Every alliance would do well to realize there are 50 or so Alliances in empire right now that would take your space in second. If you control it at the whim of your masters, eviction can be a swift and unpleasant process.

This I would not change. At the scales we're dealing with, the best system has already worked itself out. People can choose to operate with full allies or pets or renters... whatever works for their play style. The NC is more likely to consider it's pets/renters "allies" than IT is, for example. This is evolution in progress, and as with any social system, the end result will remain unknown.


  1. As much maligned as Goons often are, from firsthand experience I can attest that they treat their allies with respect and try to foster more strength and autonomy in their allies.

    Compare that to the way Atlas treated renters, or to IT resetting POS passwords and throwing their pets into hopeless certain death in desperate self-preservation.

    EVE is ultimately a social experience, and the ability to hold space depends on maintaining connections and morale. Alliances that hold on to an egotistical superiority complex and treat their partners with disrespect will reap what they sow.

  2. You touched on, but I'm not sure made entirely clear: Majesta Empire is as much an autocracy as any other alliance.

    Their constitution only provides a guideline for the current Alliance CEO to remain in good standing with the council of voting CEOs.

    The Alliance CEO is perfectly able, at any time, to act entirely outside those guidelines and ignore the votes of the council of corp CEOs. At which point the alliance would risk severe destabilization or collapse.

    If the council of CEOs votes out the Alliance CEO, it is entirely up to the Alliance CEO to relinquish control of the executor corp and its assets.

    The executor corp can be switched using in-game mechanics, if you can get the buggy thing to actually work. But at the significant cost of the executor corp's assets and Sovereignty.


    As background: I was a CEO of a Majesta corp for 6 months spanning both an election and a vote of no-confidence (which I proposed myself). We have since left Majesta in large part because of the unenjoyable aspects of those politics, to found an alliance that is an explicit autocracy.